Research Topics

Wireless-networked Automation

Automated warehouse with autonomous transportation system
© Photo Moreno Soppelsa / Fotolia.com

Automated warehouse with autonomous transportation system

Wireless technologies offer several decisive advantages over wired solutions for the data exchange between automated systems in industry or in buildings. The elimination of cabling enables wireless nodes to be positioned in a flexible and cost-effective manner. This makes it possible to widen the area of application. Thus, wireless systems are used, among other things, to establish data links between mobile or remote system components or machines. Additionally, existing automation systems can be retrofitted cost-effectively with additional sensors and actuators by using wireless technologies.

Wireless communication solutions are just as capable of meeting high specifications in terms of reliability and robustness as are wired variants. However, a number of aspects must be taken into consideration – both during their planning and integration and during their operation. Since most standard technologies deployed in an industrial setting share the same license-exempt frequency bands, such systems must be installed so as to prevent mutual interference among different wireless devices. This is further compounded by the difficult environmental conditions caused by the numerous metal objects with which wireless systems are confronted in an industrial setting and which can interfere with transmission. Therefore, it is necessary to identify and eliminate actual or potential sources of interference in a timely manner.

For this reason, Fraunhofer IIS/EAS offers a variety of services to support enterprises in the planning and secure operation of wireless-networked automation solutions or in analyzing interferences within those systems. This involves answering the following questions:

  • What radio conditions prevail in the vicinity of the system? Does coexistence with neighboring wireless networks cause problems in terms of transmission behavior?
  • How reliable is the wireless system already installed?
  • How robust is the wireless system? Are the transmission reserves sufficient for a reliable operation?
  • Do interferences occur in the wireless system from time to time? If so, what causes these interferences?

Our Services

We support our customers in the planning, commissioning, as well as the status and interference analysis of wireless-networked automation systems. We work with our customers to analyze the requirements of the specific application and evaluate various wireless technologies in terms of their suitability. Leveraging our measurement and diagnostics system, which we have developed in-house, we capture environment-specific radio conditions with groundbreaking accuracy and are thus in a position to advise you optimally on the use of wireless technologies.

Examples of wireless communication technologies in industrial environments

Examples of wireless communication technologies in industrial environments

Our services at a glance:

  • Feasibility studies on the deployment of wireless technologies in industrial and building automation
  • Customer-specific planning and support in the selection of technologies and systems, as well as acceptance testing of wireless networks
  • Wireless measurement for the evaluation of existing radio conditions (radio propagation, interference, and coexistence situation) and of transmission reserves
  • Reliability and robustness analysis of wireless systems
  • Interference diagnostics by means of the metrological identification of causes and the development of possible solutions
  • Development of measurement systems for ongoing status monitoring as well as the preventive identification of sources of interference
  • Development of customer-specific prototypes of wireless systems

Coexistence of wireless networks: How to avoid malfunctions during production

When using more than one wireless network in industry automation, coexistence problems can easily occur - as the video shows. The Wireless Network Analyzer developed by Fraunhofer IIS/EAS monitors the transmission quality of the networks and identifies potential failure sources in advance.

The Benefits for Our Customers

  • Time and costs savings specific to the planning, installation, and operation of wireless networks
  • Reduction of transmission problems by means of plant compliant and environment compliant configuration of wireless systems
  • Early identification of potential interferences regardless of the complexity of the systems and the wireless technology used
  • Targeted interference identification and cause analysis in the instance of transmission problems
  • Identification of existing transmission reserves in the wireless network
  • Optimal leveraging of the advantages of wireless-based communication systems by means of customer-specific solution strategies

Reference Projects

We have developed our expertise in the course of the following research projects, among others:

  • RAdCoM (completed project): The RAdCoM project involves the development of a surveillance system for bridges and other structures on the basis of wireless communication. It is specifically adapted to the difficult conditions encountered in rail transport.
  • RobAn (completed project): The project is working on technical aids and software tools that can realistically evaluate the functional capability of a new wireless solution in industrial automation as early as during the planning phase.
  • RoSeNet (completed project): The project aimed to develop a new type of design platform for wireless sensor networks.